The C.I.A. warned the administration in a classified report in May that Iraq - since the American invasion in 2003 - had become a training ground in which novice terrorists were schooled in assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other terror techniques. The report said Iraq could prove to be more effective than Afghanistan in the early days of Al Qaeda as a place to train terrorists who could then disperse to other parts of the world, including the United States.And ironically, the scripture used this evening in worship at my church included a personal favorite:
Larry Johnson, a former C.I.A. analyst who served as deputy director of the State Department's counterterrorism office, said on National Public Radio last week: "You now in Iraq have a recruiting ground in which jihadists, people who previously were not willing to go out and embrace the vision of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, are now aligning themselves with elements that have declared allegiance to him. And in the course of that, they're learning how to build bombs. They're learning how to conduct military operations."
Has the president given any thought to leveling with the American people about how bad the situation has become? And is he even considering what for him would be the radical notion of soliciting the counsel of wise men and women who might give him a different perspective on war and terror than the Kool-Aid-drinking true believers who have brought us to this dreadful state of affairs? The true believers continue to argue that the proper strategy is to stay the current catastrophic course.
Americans are paying a fearful price for Mr. Bush's adventure in Iraq. In addition to the toll of dead and wounded, the war is costing about $5 billion a month. It has drained resources from critical needs here at home, including important antiterror initiatives that would improve the security of ports, transit systems and chemical plants.
The war has diminished the stature and weakened the credibility of the United Sates around the world. And it has delivered a body blow to the readiness of America's armed forces. Much of the military is now overdeployed, undertrained and overworked. Many of the troops are serving multiple tours in Iraq. No wonder potential recruits are staying away in droves.
Whatever one's views on the war, thoughtful Americans need to consider the damage it is doing to the United States, and the bitter anger that it has provoked among Muslims around the world. That anger is spreading like an unchecked fire in an incredibly vast field.
"Come for water, all who are thirsty;
though you have no money, come, buy grain and eat;
come, buy wine and milk,
not for money, not for a price.
Why spend your money for what is not food,
your earnings on what fails to satisfy?
Listen to me and you will fare well,
you will enjoy the fat of the land.
Come to me and listen to my words,
hear me and you will have life."
Isaiah 55:1-3 (REB)
Hearken back to the words of Exodus: which is the way of life, and which the way of death? And which is our country determined to follow, behind a leader who proclaims, who depends on, his "Christian credentials"?
I wish he had better credentials in that area, that this point. Maybe we'd be better off.